Singapore revokes work permits for North Koreans
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Singapore revokes work permits for North Koreans

SINGAPORE’S government has repealed the work permits of all North Korean nationals in the country, in line with the latest United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang.

“Singapore has revoked the work passes of all nationals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) earning income in Singapore and will not grant new work passes to nationals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” said a statement from the Singaporean government to the UN Security Council’s sanctions panel last week.

The DPRK is the official name of North Korea. “There are therefore no nationals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with work passes in Singapore,” it added.

Like other Southeast Asian nations, Singapore has previously enjoyed good relations with North Korea, however Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme and UN sanctions in recent years have put ties under strain.

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Singapore said earlier this month that it was investigating two local companies accused of supplying luxury goods to North Korea in violation of UN sanctions. Citing a leaked draft of a UN report, British broadcaster BBC said the two firms were OCN and T-Specialist, sister companies that share the same director. The companies have denied any wrongdoing.

“The Singapore authorities are aware of these cases and we are in correspondence with the UN Panel on them,” Singapore’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement.

“In respect of the two companies mentioned in the BBC report – OCN and T-Specialist – our authorities have commenced investigations into these companies. However, we are unable to provide additional details as investigations are ongoing.”

Under UN sanctions, it has been illegal to sell luxury items to North Korea since 2006. Singapore suspended all commercial trade with Pyongyang in November 2017.

Additional reporting from Reuters.